×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Game of Thrones

Westeros, a mythical land of seven kingdoms where dragons once lived is full of plotting, intrigue and fractious families on all sides, resonating beyond fans of George R.R. Martin's novels.

With:
King Robert Baratheon - Mark Addy
Theon Greyjoy - Alfie Allen
Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark - Sean Bean
Daenerys Targaryen - Emilia Clarke
Ser Jaime Lannister - Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Tyrion Lannister - Peter Dinklage
Lady Catelyn Stark - Michelle Fairley
Petyr Baelish - Aidan Gillen
Prince Joffrey Baratheon - Jack Gleeson
Ser Jorah Mormont - Iain Glen
Jon Snow - Kit Harington
Queen Cersei Lannister - Lena Headey
Bran Stark - Isaac Hempstead-Wright
Viserys Targaryen - Harry Lloyd
Robb Stark - Richard Madden
Sandor Clegane - Rory McCann
Sansa Stark - Sophie Turner
Arya Stark - Maisie Williams

Although “Mad Men’s” Don Draper partially scratched the itch, premium TV has been actively seeking its next Tony Soprano. While Showtime’s medieval “The Borgias” directly promoted that analogy, HBO comes much closer with “Game of Thrones,” which reaches even farther afield — to Westeros, a mythical land of seven kingdoms where dragons once lived — to deliver a mob boss (OK, king) beset by plotting, intrigue and fractious families on all sides. Massive in scope and cinematic in detail, this dense piece of storytelling should resonate beyond just fans of George R.R. Martin’s novels, providing HBO its own formidable seat of power.

The “Thrones” DVD came with a sort-of study guide for the uninitiated, but HBO needn’t have worried. In relatively short order, the series adaptation by writer-producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (with Tim Van Patten directing the first two episodes) grabs the audience by the throat like an exceptionally loyal wolf, and, through the six previewed episodes, never relinquishes that hold.

That grip, moreover, happens with a relatively modest amount of hacking, whacking and shagging, though there’s enough sex and swordplay to keep an audience on edge, while firmly establishing the project’s pay TV credentials.

Summarizing the plot is no small feat, but heavy sits the crown on the head of King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy), who bluntly states his aim to “eat, drink and whore my way to an early grave.” His queen (“300’s” Lena Headey) might well be plotting against him; a sadistic exiled prince (Harry Lloyd) has wedded his sister (Emilia Clarke) to a vicious barbarian (“Conan” star Jason Momoa) to facilitate raising an army against Robert; and the king’s principal adviser, known as the Hand of the King, has died, leaving a power vacuum.

Asked to fill that leadership void serving the mercurial king is a grim northerner, Lord Eddard “Ned” Stark (Sean Bean), who soon begins to realize his predecessor’s death might not have been happenstance. The narrative also follows Stark’s various children, and the queen’s two brothers: the dashing Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and droll dwarf Tyrion (Peter Dinklage, as usual committing grand larceny in all his scenes), who relies on his brain to compensate for a lack of brawn.

These stories play out across multiple locales, from the seaside debauchery of Dothraki warriors to Stark’s castle to the ice-bound frontier at the kingdom’s edge — protected by a massive wall — where Stark’s bastard son Jon Snow (Kit Harington) is dispatched.

Game of Thrones” excels on multiple levels — with its splendid ensemble cast (able to sell even the clunkier fantasy dialogue), intricate palace machinations, sly humor and growing sense of inevitable conflict. The production’s look is a wonder, showcasing a variety of environments (lensing was in Northern Ireland and Malta) and ornate sets and costumes that approximate the feel of a theatrical blockbuster.

Indeed, in terms of visual ambition and atmosphere, this series challenges the movie world on summer-tentpole turf, while simultaneously capitalizing on an episodic approach that allows the interlocking stories to unfold in a manner no feature ever could. And if the pacing is occasionally uneven in later episodes, by then the hook has been planted so deep a loyal audience will happily overlook fleeting lapses in exchange for the abundant pleasures heralded by the opening chords of Ramin Djawadi’s muscular theme.

“Winter is coming,” Stark and others warn, a reference not just to Westeros’ unpredictable seasons but the massing clouds of war. And as King Robert wryly observes in a later hour, “Backstabbing doesn’t prepare you for a fight.”

Perhaps not in Westeros, but in this realm backstabbing can make for inordinately rewarding drama. And as much as sci-fi and fantasy fans love to grouse and nitpick, HBO, by enlivening the spring with 10 hours of genuinely epic television, has given them almost no cause for discontent.

Game of Thrones

HBO, Sun. April 17, 9 p.m.

Production: Filmed in Northern Ireland and Malta by Television 360, Grok Television, Generator Entertainment and Bighead Littlehead. Executive producers, David Benioff, D.B. Weiss; co-executive producers, Carolyn Strauss, Guymon Casady, Vince Gerardis, Ralph Vicinanza, George R.R. Martin; producers, Mark Huffam, Joanna Burn, Frank Doelger; director, Tim Van Patten; writers, Benioff, Weiss; based on the book "A Song of Ice and Fire" by Martin.

Crew: Camera, Alik Sakharov; production designer, Gemma Jackson; editor, Oral Norrie Ottey; music, Ramin Djawadi; costume designer, Michele Clapton; casting, Nina Gold, Robert Sterne. 65 MIN.

Cast: King Robert Baratheon - Mark Addy
Theon Greyjoy - Alfie Allen
Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark - Sean Bean
Daenerys Targaryen - Emilia Clarke
Ser Jaime Lannister - Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Tyrion Lannister - Peter Dinklage
Lady Catelyn Stark - Michelle Fairley
Petyr Baelish - Aidan Gillen
Prince Joffrey Baratheon - Jack Gleeson
Ser Jorah Mormont - Iain Glen
Jon Snow - Kit Harington
Queen Cersei Lannister - Lena Headey
Bran Stark - Isaac Hempstead-Wright
Viserys Targaryen - Harry Lloyd
Robb Stark - Richard Madden
Sandor Clegane - Rory McCann
Sansa Stark - Sophie Turner
Arya Stark - Maisie WilliamsWith: Jason Momoa.

More TV

  • Endemol Shine Sells Hit Series ‘Harem’

    Endemol Shine Sells Hit Series ‘Harem’ to Australia’s SBS

    France’s Endemol Shine has announced the Australian sale of its hit cult-themed Israeli drama “Harem” to Australia’s SBS. During a keynote speech at last year’s Series Mania, Endemol Shine president Sohpie Turner Laing announced that Season 2 of the series had already been greenlit, and shooting would begin in 2019. Inspired by cults in Israel [...]

  • Nick Offerman Amy Poehler

    'Parks and Recreation' Cast Talks Possibility of a Revival at 10th Anniversary Reunion

    For one night, Hollywood felt a little like Pawnee. The cast of NBC’s hit comedy “Parks and Recreation” reunited at PaleyFest on Thursday in honor of the show’s 10th anniversary. The whole Pawnee gang showed up: Amy Poehler, Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, Rob Lowe, Adam Scott, Rashida Jones, Retta, and Jim [...]

  • "Raven's Home" Executive Producer, Eunetta Boone.

    Bob Greenblatt Pays Tribute to Eunetta Boone: 'Love Just Radiated From Her'

    Eunetta T. Boone was funny, sharp and extremely warm-hearted. That’s how WarnerMedia Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt remembered Boone as he paid tribute to the showrunner who died Wednesday at the age of 63. Greenblatt worked with Boone in the early 2000s when he was partnered with David Janollari in the Greenblatt-Janollari Studio production venture. Greenblatt-Janollari [...]

  • Writer-Director Dominik Moll on Series Mania

    Writer-Director Dominik Moll on Series Mania Competition Contender ‘Eden’

    LILLE, France — “I must down to the seas again,” Amaré, an teen African illegal immigrant, reads aloud in a poetry lesson at a refugee center near the beach in Greece. Thoughts of wander-lust seen comically out of place. Amaré has just been seen in the prolog to “Eden” leaping out of a dinghy beaching [...]

  • John Simm Talks ‘Cold Courage' as

    John Simm Talks 'Cold Courage' as Lionsgate Boards International Drama (EXCLUSIVE)

    John Simm plays a rabble-rousing populist politician in “Cold Courage,” and Lionsgate has stepped up and taken international rights to the series. Based on the series of novels by Pekka Hiltunen, the drama is billed as the biggest yet out of Finland and will bow on the Viaplay streaming service in Scandinavia. With a cast [...]

  • "Raven's Home" Executive Producer, Eunetta Boone.

    Eunetta Boone, Showrunner and Creator of 'One on One,' Dies at 63

    Writer-producer Eunetta Boone, creator of the UPN comedy “One on One” and showrunner of Disney Channel’s “Raven’s Home,” died Wednesday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 63. Boone was found dead at her home of an apparent heart attack. Boone had most recently worked as showrunner on the third season of the Disney [...]

  • Global Sales for ‘Les Miserables’ Series

    Global Sales for ‘Les Miserables’ Starring Dominic West Ahead of Series Mania

    The BBC and Masterpiece adaptation of “Les Miserables” will play on a numerous international channels after a raft of deals were sealed for the series, which features Dominic West, David Oyelowo, and Lily Collins. Andrew Davies’ adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic has been acquired by broadcasters in Scandinavia and southern Europe, and by several buyers [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content